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Hours Will Be Restored For Two Weeks to Health Agent

Health Agent Martin Fair discussed a budget decrease with Selectmen Monday night.

Health Agent Martin Fair's hours were cut after June Town Meeting. Fair spent the last 30 years working 35 hours per week in North Reading for the Board of Health and that was cut to 24 hours this year.

In hopes of getting funds to increase Fair's hours, the Board of Health addressed the Board of Selectmen at Monday's meeting.

Fair acts as a compliance officer to enforce code, he is an inspector, auditor, trainer, educator and technical expert for health and environmental issues. He is also an emergency responder, most recently having responded to the fire at .

In addition, Fair oversees all of the work for contractors for restaurant inspectors. North Reading inspects restaurants twice, sometimes three times per year.

The reduction in hours can have an impact on the town and a number of services including compliance code enforcement. “In the big picture, it’s a potential liability for the town," said Board of Health Chairman Gary Hunt.

Before the decision was made to cut Fair's hours, he made a presentation to the Board of Selectmen to justify his budget.

Selectman Mike Prisco said, "We made this cut based on Martin's presentation."

Prisco explained that Fair was present when the budgets for the year were discussed, but did not speak up. Not until the meeting last Monday night, six months later, did Fair come to the board asking for more hours.

Until the Board of Selectmen and town administrator decide if it's even possible to move money back to the Board of Health's budget, they restored hours for Fair for the next two weeks.

Laura Kernan November 22, 2011 at 01:04 PM
This is an important position for public health. I hope his hours get restored permanently soon.
Maureen Vacca November 22, 2011 at 05:58 PM
Restoring hours should be taken up in the next budget cycle. This budget has already been approved by voters. But if there are funds that can be moved....let me suggest an item that was not even considered during the budget process, emergency lighting for the NR Food Pantry!

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